Nicholas Lampson, a senior majoring in Business Analytics and Industrial Design, has always had his hands in projects well outside the scope of pure business. Beginning as early as his Freshman year at Notre Dame, Nich started learning about the IDEA Center and the resources it had to offer. The summer following his first year, Nich joined the two-stroke team to help analyze the feasibility and opportunity for commercialization of faculty innovations. In the meantime, Nich’s own entrepreneurial interests were blossoming; the following academic year he pitched a startup idea to the IDEA Center’s Student Pipeline. The singer/songwriter co-founded Streetlight Creations, a company which offered custom songs drawing from customers’ personal stories. “It’s been great to work with the IDEA Center in so many different capacities,” Nich commented. As his immersion into the world of entrepreneurship continued to deepen, Streetlight Creations went on to win the Irish Angels Award during the McCloskey New Venture Competition in 2018.
Nich’s entrepreneurial passions only seemed to grow as he chose to continue working as an IDEA Center intern for a second summer. However, Nich’s most recent entrepreneurial endeavor arose from personal experience this past summer when he spent time alongside his family who had been faced with difficult news. “Over the summer I had the opportunity to be a caregiver for a family member in hospice care,” Nich explains. “It was a very difficult time, but I considered it to be the privilege of my life to spend that time with my family. During that period, we set up hospice in our home. I noticed there were processes involved in hospice care that were difficult to perform. Helping the patient use the restroom was particularly difficult in a home setting. I figured if we were experiencing this problem, there were likely others also experiencing problems.”
Holding his experience as a caregiver close to his heart and moved by this life event, Nich continued to research and investigate this problem when he returned to school in the fall. “Coming back, I took two design classes where I had the opportunity to explore this problem further and what came out of that was this venture, Agape Health.” Agape Health looks to provide in-home hospice care solutions and, more specifically, a safer, more dignified patient commode. The commode is easily accessible to the patient not only in physical proximity but also in regard to providing greater patient control through a design which offers guided assistance, thereby improving patient safety and mitigating falls.
In developing an initial prototype, Nich recognized the importance of conducting research through in-person problem validation and spoke with former hospice caregivers and professionals in the Mishawaka area. “The back-and-forth throughout the development process has been very collaborative,” Nich shares. Once again, Nich returned to the IDEA Center, this time to introduce Agape Health to the Student Pipeline. While the venture is neither business analytics nor music oriented, Nich is prepared to dive into the healthcare space, because he has seen and felt a need that he believes can and should be met. He emphasizes, “We are trying to find a solution for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
Joined by a team of friends, peers, and mentors who also have significant entrepreneurial experience, Nich plans on starting the product validation phase in the upcoming months. Throughout his time at Notre Dame, Nich has been able to transform his passions and the problems he cares about into executable solutions. “Being able to go through the [design-thinking and early-stage startup-building] process multiple times has fed my desire to go into entrepreneurship and craft better ventures. [It is great] to be in an environment where I didn’t know things at first but have grown in seeing how entrepreneurship can be applied to life-altering technologies and help to discern whether it is a reasonable business venture.”
Agape Health has been accepted into the semifinals of this year’s McCloskey New Ventures Competition.